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ANALYSIS: Those who swapped gun for government now vulnerable

Gerard Davidson

ANALYSIS

Once the most senior IRA man in Belfast, a member of the Provisional movement's Northern Command at the height of his powers, Gerard 'Jock' Davidson was a man to be feared.

His murder, shot dead in the street in an execution style killing, would have once warranted revenge of the most bloody kind.

But with peace and a role in government comes great responsibility and the mainstream republican movement, while out in force yesterday to show support to the Davidson family, know that their hands are tied.

Jock Davidson was a man who while in charge of the IRA made many enemies.

His time at the top included a period of IRA 'housekeeping' in the lead up to the organisation's cessation of violence.

This included the murder of a number of high profile criminals in the early to mid 1990s.

The weapon used to kill one man had been previously used to carry out IRA punishment shootings in the Markets and Short Strand areas. Jock Davidson was linked to a number of these murders. Under his command a number of people accused of criminality were also exiled from republican areas such as the Markets.

Friends, family and associates of those who once feared the wrath of the IRA have long memories.

The murder of the high profile IRA man just yards from his own home in a staunchly republican area is a sign of just how vulnerable those who swapped the gun for government now are.

Sinn Féin will be putting pressure on the PSNI to move swiftly and catch the gunman and his accomplices to ease fears within their own community.

If the police fail to catch, charge and convict those responsible the message that sends out to the community will be clear. The criminals are now the ones with the guns and the former IRA men who once wielded unquestionable power are now the targets.

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